He works his eight-hour day inside
Armour’s steam. The steam is his white
floor and his white ceiling. It keeps
belching up out of the six tank holes after
he jerks open their iron lids.
I rarely see him. Does the steam make him
shy, an animal in fog? I just get glimpses of him.
But I can put him together. He is shirt-
less with a bulging chest. His back and
shoulders are the color of lobster. His biceps,
constantly working, are round and seamed.
When I get close enough I notice he is always
grinning. He never speaks.
He works by himself, without breaks. I never
see him puffing on a cigarette, leaning against
the handles of a tankage cart, complaining
about the pay or the heat.
The heat is too much for me. I can stay
no longer than it takes to dump my cart-
load of condemned heads or kidneys or bellies.
I take a deep breath before I go in. I roll
my cart in fast and look around for him. I catch
his finger pointing to the least-full
tank. By the time I get there the lid is
open and his pitchfork hands are ready. I
tip my cart over the hole as the steam belches
up under us, swirling and relentless, hammering
my face and forehead. He is on his knees;
he sticks his hands deep inside the cart,
up past his elbows, up to his red shoulders
and beyond, scooping, pulling, forking,
jerking everything out. His back and arms
and neck are matted with guts and worms.
I know he is grinning; his head keeps nod-
ding, as if he figures he can grab joy
out of anything I bring him.